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I want to offer 20 percent off to coaching clients. For the first three coaching sessions for those who sign up with me in 2018 by August 2018.
Jason: Hello, our guest today is Heather Mattisson. Heather, are you ready to be great today?
Heather: Yes always.
Jason: Heather has over 15 years of experience in product management marketing at Intel and holds a Master's degree in marketing from the Kellogg School of Management. She has been PMP for over 12 years. Has won recognition awards. For a role as a software product launches and program management of several firms. Most recently Heather joined a global diversity and inclusion team at Intel Corp. As a unit University partnerships manager. She drives partnerships with some of Intel's education partners. Such as Georgia Tech and six historically black colleges and universities. HBCUs. She manages a college student mentoring program. Prior to Intel Heather held management roles at Ticketmaster and Omediz. A patient portal startup and managed the product launch software product management processes for million dollar clients. Heather is also a certified Intergral coach and certified VitalSmart Crucial Conversations Client Trainer and enjoys volunteering for children and women's organizations. She is a member of a book club that has lasted nearly a decade. Her favorite foods are bacon, vegan cupcakes and other vegan and gluten free treats. Heather, thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it.
Heather: Thank you Jason. Thank you for having me.
Jason: So what's keeping her busy these days. You have a lot on your plate. How do you prioritize on all this?
Heather: Well I've just recently obtained my coaching certification. So I'm now a certified integral coach and also too. We are still ramping up our partnerships and our relationships with some of the universities with which we partner and Intel. And so that's been very exciting.
Jason: So Heather talk about what a Product Manager does and how that role can help improve company.
Heather: A Product Manager's job is to take a look at all of the features that are wanted by a client and help the business team and the development team organize all of those features into a release. Our core job is to understand what the customer wants and what makes the customer happy. Then to compare that against the market information to understand from a competitive standpoint. Looking at competition. What features will help our business to stand out. Then how to connect those features and the products we want to release. How do we make sure that's connected to the company's vision. So making sure that the products that we release are connected to the company's vision. Making the customer happy and looking at the company to make sure that our products can stand out and that we have a competitive advantage. So those are some of the things that a product manager does
Jason: When do you recommend for founders to bring on a Product Manager. Like employee six employee seven right off the bat. Now what's your advice on that?
Heather: The product and the initial Product Manager in a startup is typically employee number two or three actually and that person typically wears many hats. A product manager role may grow out of a business development role or a sales role. Often with a start up the founder is the person that's most knowledgeable of the product and the products needs and is connecting with the customers. So often it's the founder, the founder is the de facto Product Manager. Because they're making the decisions on what features will go into the product right away.
Jason: So how do the Product Manager and CTO work together?
Heather: Sure the Product Manager the Product Managers role is mainly marketing and to understand the technology. So that the Product Manager understands the customer and understands the market and connects those. Elements and forces to the companies vision
Heather: Then the Product Manager uses technology to accomplish those objectives. The CTOs objectives are around it from a technology standpoint are to maximize the resources that the company has available and then make sure to add to actually partner with the Product Manager to understand what will give us an edge or competitive advantage in the market by using certain technologies that edge might be being lowest cost. So the Product Manager and the CTO work together to accomplish that goal. How can we be that at the lowest cost or it could be how can we be the most innovative? That means the CTO will go on trying to find try to find the latest technology or newer technology that will give an edge. Or a partnership could be a partnership. From a technology standpoint that gives the company an edge.
Jason: Heather, how can we increase the number of companies not only recruiting at HBCUs. But actually hiring people from HBCUs. I think a lot of companies are recruiting there. But I'm not too sure of their actually hiring you know like they should be.
Heather: Yes. What you're getting at Jason is a key part of the equation for inclusion in diversity and inclusion. The key part there is you can bring employees into an organization. But that doesn't mean that they will be happy and want to stay. So what I would say is most of those companies are recruiting. They probably are recruiting from the historically black colleges and universities. But they may not have programs or communities that help the students from those schools to feel comfortable and to thrive and to grow and get their motions and to help contribute to the communities at those work environment.
Jason: Heather can you tell us the six HBCUs you partner with and what is involved with that.
Heather: Sure sure. So there's North Carolina A&T. Morgan State University, Howard University. Tuskegee University Florida A&M University and Prairie View University. So those are the schools. What we did is we were looking at our company's goals for diversity and inclusion. One of the facts out there is that on average 27 percent of all African-American stem students, graduate from historically black colleges and universities. So those schools are graduating a major percentage of all of the STEM grads out there. Who are African-American. So we thought that this was a rich pool of talent. That we should explore. So the partnership the way it works is we give scholarships to students and as well we sponsor student programs on campus. Those student programs might be mentoring, tutoring travel stipends to go to student conferences and more. So we wanted to create a rich environment or leadership and professional development for the students. As well partner with the schools to provide curriculum to share curriculum resources and to provide other resources to the faculty so that we could fully support the school and the students.
Jason: I remember reading somewhere that of the diverse students that take STEM in college. Like 80 percent of them don't finish. Is that what you've seen out there or was that
Heather: I think that that's a pretty high percentage to say 80 percent drop out. But there is a higher percentage that do drop out. What we know is that students who don't have mentors or who have trouble envisioning others who look like them in the workplace. They have a hard time believing that they'll be happy in that role. So when the going gets tough in those engineering classes get really hard. It's easy to switch. It's a little bit easier to switch. Then often sometimes especially if you're a woman. Or if you're a person of color you may get pressure even from the professors from family members from friends to do something easier. We see that quite often the way we try to combat that is through mentorship providing mentoring and providing buddies to some of those students offering that as well as introducing them to technology and the culture at Intel. So that they can envision a place where they may land after they graduate.
Jason: That's great. Heather from your point of view what makes a successful product launch.
Heather: Yes. And Jason I'm providing these this information about Intel. I did want to also let you know these are my opinions. They're not the opinions of Intel. So with that, I'll answer this question. What makes a successful product launch. That is a really great question. What I found is that it's perspiration and also luck hard work and a little bit of luck. There are some things that are within your control. So what I always recommend is, perform the process as well as you can. The process of connecting. Make sure you connect with your customers and that you understand as well as possible what their needs and wants have an open and honest conversation with your business and your development team about what you can accomplish and win. And set, reasonable expectations with your customer. So setting expectations with your customers, setting expectations with your business and being and doing good. We call it stakeholder management and that's very critical. The other pieces understand the competition as well as possible. So doing the research. There's nothing to replace, Plain old research, even if it's through Google to understand your competition and make sure you have a competitive advantage. So without a competitive advantage, without an edge, it will be hard for your product to stand out. So I would say the perspiration is in the planning and the upfront work required to make sure that that product is a success. The execution of it has to happen. But without some of that planning. The product launch could fall flat. So I'd say focus on doing the upfront work well and planning for that product launch and then the rest is luck. Your competition could release a new product. At the same time as yours and could be bad luck. There were some there were some companies and movie producers releasing new movies new products at the same time as 9/11 for example. Or some major event happening in the United States. That's bad luck. There's not much you can do about that. But you can affect the perspiration portion.
Jason: Heather, next can you talk about a time you were successful in the past, what you learned from this success and what we can learn from your success?
Heather: Yes yes. Well, you mentioned that I'm a certified life coach and I had just gotten my life coaching certification and the following weekend I took a nap. I was at home and I took a nap. That may sound small but for me, it was a big win. Because for me the way I define success is how I go about my life. It's not just what I can accomplish. It's going about my life in a way where I'm taking care of myself. I'm feeling very present in showing up for my family and for the people I work with for the students and the schools that I support. Being fully present to life. So it's not going through life tired or angry or hurt. It's been engaging with the people that you're with. It's about how I go about my life as more so than what I can accomplish and when I focus on the how the what seems to take care of itself. And for me that success
Jason: Yes I think people underestimate the power of a good nap.
Heather: Yes I do too. I think they're underrated. I'm surprised at myself because when I was little I had so much energy I didn't want to take a nap. I never did
Jason: Heather next question. Can you talk about a time you failed in the past, what you learned from this and what we can take away from this?
Heather: Yes. Yes. Pulling on this theme of success being about how you go about your life more so than what you accomplish. Years ago I was on a product launch. I was a product manager for a new product at my company. The issue that occurred was I got onto this project. I was a fresh MBA grad. I learned that the competition the competitive analysis had not been done for this project. I was worried about that because from what I could see we were behind the market. We were behind our competitors. We were about to release a product that might not have much success in the market. So then what I proceeded to do after having some conversations internally and finding out that we had already committed to this course of action. I committed to burn. I proceeded to burn myself out I burned myself out completely. I was working 12 15 hour days every day including the weekends. I mean I wasn't really available for my family. Right then I realized I was losing and I was not successful. I realized that. I was unhappy. I was cooking myself up healthy meals. I had a healthy meal in weeks. I wasn't really connected with my family.
Heather: I hadn't been outside in weeks or days or weeks in terms of just to have a breath of fresh air and I wasn't myself. I wasn't being myself. Not only that I realized as a woman as a single woman. There was a disadvantage there most of the folks on my team were men who were married. I could envision that when they got home someone had gotten the mail someone had gotten groceries someone had put their children to bed. Someone had cooked. Someone had taken care of the house. The house was maybe reasonably clean. This is what I was imagining and for me as a single person not just as a single woman as a person who's single. I was trying to do all of that on my own as well work the same hours that my married or partnered colleagues were and I realized I was a losing battle. And so for me. That's how I define not being successful. It's really being unhappy and going about my life in a way where I'm just a zombie and I'm not myself and I'm not really available emotionally. To my friends or family or even them myself so of as a product manager.
Jason: Does the process change depending on the product or is it the same all the time.
Heather: It does change. It depends on the industry you're in as well. So for example in some industries. You might be working for a company that is the market leader market leader 70 80 percent market share. Or you might be working in an industry where all of the market players have 15 20 percent market share and you're fighting for that market share. And there is constant product releases. So, for example, the difference is between let's say Rice Krispies Kellogg's Rice Krispies the cereal market through the market for breakfast cereal. Extremely competitive very low margins and some of them in some cases. Versus the market of let's say luxury vehicles. That is a very different business. So the way you approach your competitive analysis the way you approach your customers a high touch. Versus. The very high touch versus maybe a low touch where you're working with the public. Versus private clients. All of those things change what you do and how you go about a product launch.
Jason: Heather can tell us about who has helped you out and how they helped you.
Heather: My mother helped me. I have alopecia Riata. I also volunteer for bald girls do lunch which is a nonprofit focused on empowerment for people who have alopecia. But when I first learned that I had this autoimmune disease. I was in shock and I went through many of the phases of shock and fear and anger and sadness as a woman as a single woman. One of the issues was you don't feel beautiful. You're not sure if you'll be desirable as a woman. I was going through all of these feelings when I talked to my mother. My mother said, Heather. She was very practical. Remember it's just hair. You have the rest of your life. This doesn't define you. Your hair doesn't define you and when she said that it forced me to separate this idea of hair from who I was and it allowed me to move forward and redefine who I was and how I felt about myself as a person. Who would be bald and so my mother has been one of the biggest supporters for me. She's always been in my corner. She's one of the people that I would say has been most inspiring.
Jason: Next. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know. Your close family knows close friends know this. Bu most people who see day to day don't know this about you.
Heather: That's a great question. Most people would not know that I used to play varsity volleyball. You could not part me from the volleyball court. I played from junior high and high school and in college varsity volleyball division II. So the thing you also might not know though is I used to have a 30 inch vertical. In spite of the fact that I am five foot one, I used to have some leaps. So I played outside attacker. I was not the setter.
Jason: Do you still play once in a while.
Heather: I haven't played a long time. After college, I stopped playing but I still I still love it. It's still in my heart.
Jason: Heather I understand you have something for our listeners.
Heather: Yes. As I had mentioned I am starting a new business. So I wanted to offer 20 percent off to coaching clients. For the first three coaching sessions for those who sign up with me in 2018 by August 2018.
Jason: Thank you. This can be very valuable for the listeners. Can you provide your social media links that people reach out to you?
Heather: Yes you can hit me on Twitter @bookfoodie. That's the Twitter handle. And then that's the main way to reach out to me. You can also reach out to me on LinkedIn
Jason: Thank you. Heather, we are coming to the end of our talk. Can you provide any last minute wisdom or advice on any subject you would like to cover for our listeners
Heather: Yes. I'd say focus on how you're going about your life. When you go to sleep at night or when you wake up every day. Check in with yourself, are you happy. If not how are you feeling and what are those feelings and knowing that itself is the key to building a happy life. How are you feeling about it. Then once you know how you feel, the natural human inclination is to understand maybe what can I do about it. So that's what I would offer. Know thyself and check in with yourself and how happy you are and don't let. Life's challenges are life's daily challenges get to you.
Jason: Heather thank you for your time today I really appreciate it. I know you're busy person doing a lot of great things. So thank you for your time.
Heather: Thank you. Thank you Jason
Jason: To our listeners thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.